Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review You!

A dozen links to get your book reviewed, oh, and the last one links you to one-hundred other review sites. No matter what your genre, there will be a place that fits your book perfectly.





Once you become a published author, you have to figure out how to get people reading and buying your book. Sending your book out for reviews is a fantastic way to generate a buzz about your book. If you have writer type friends who are of the published variety, chances are they have a blog of some sort. Exchange a review with them. An I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours sort of deal, only with this one you can keep your shirt on. This will expose both of your respective books to new readers and everybody is a winner.
On a side note, as you click through these links you may come across a book review. My book review to be specific. **smiles winningly** Feel free to read it before you explore the site to find where to send your book for review. Also, many of the ones on this page deal with the romance genre; however, the final link will offer every other genre a chance to be read.
So be brave, you’re a published author. Get out there and pound the information highway for ways to bring your book to the world.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Any Witch Way - YA Book Review

Any Witch Way, by Annastaysia Savage, is a charming YA story infused with humor, magik, and battles between good and evil.

Young Sadie wishes she had a normal life. Her classmates tease, taunt and bully her, giving her the nickname “Crazy Sadie” because she still thinks her mother is alive after a tragic car crash three years earlier. Her foster parents think she’s nuts too.

I just wish I were a normal kid. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. ~Sadie

Her grandmotherly neighbor, Mrs. Felis (who puts catnip in her tea among other strange things) seems to be her only friend. She listens to Sadie without judging her, shares her tea and gives the warmest hugs. When Mrs. Felis gives Sadie a gift for her thirteenth birthday, things begin to change. She enters a magikal world that guarantees she will be anything but normal.

Stifling a nervous giggle, Sadie took in the reality of her situation. She was about to have a conversation with a troll before beginning her magikal lessons and, probably the craziest thing of all, she was a witch. ~excerpt
I enjoyed this magikal, lighthearted yet sensitive story of a young girl’s coming of age. If you can’t take pleasure in a tale riddled with gnomes, elves, a knitting circle of ghosts, and wood nymphs drunk on pumpkin wine—well…then you’re not normal. ;)

*The spelling of magik is intentional, as it is spelled this way in the book. ;)

Saturday, April 16, 2011


She turned her face unto the sun,
clamoring to ease the chill.
Her soul iced with the clutch of grief
while tears paid the Reaper's bill.

She ran her hand over the soil
blanketing the earthen grave.
His blood had soaked the battle ground
for the lives at home he saved.

A stately flag of his homeland
draped the chiseled, grey headstone.
She bowed her head and prayed for strength
to bear their future alone.

With ev'ry beat, her wounded heart
yearned for his loving embrace.
Her smile and comfort, now extinct,
etched anguish upon her face.

Swallowing grief, she stood to go;
The chubby hands warmed her own.
Finding survival through the loss,
she led their young twins back home.

~JM Powers~Author

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Dreamed A Dream

I’m often been curious how ideas are born. I remember reading an interview with Stephen King when I was about eleven or so and began my ever-long obsession with the man’s writing. He said something that I thought couldn’t possibly be true. His ideas come from dreams.

For a writer like King, I thought this was a pretty flaky way to go about writing stories. What if you didn’t have a very good dream? What if you had an amazing dream but then woke up before you could find out how it ended? What if you stopped dreaming altogether?

I didn’t think it was possible to write what you dream. Until I started. As of present, there is very little I haven’t written that wasn’t, in part at least, shown to me in a dream. Sometimes it is just a conversation. Other times it is whole scenes. Rarely, but most wonderfully, it is the full concept, completely laid out for me. But I know everyone is not like this. Not everyone has their ideas handed to them by the Sand Man.

As a writer, I consider myself a creative person. It came in handy as a child when it was time to worm my way out of something, or explain why I was four hours late. Of course, I usually embellished way too much and hindered myself rather than helped. But I can’t imagine being so creative that I could sit down one day and just imagine up an entire world. To make up characters and plot lines and intriguing scenarios.

When I dream and I think a story can be made of it, I usually have a massive head start on what’s going on and who is who. Sure, I add characters and situations but to start entirely from scratch? With zero help? Um, scary!

So congrats to the writers who do this – I admire you all, seriously.

But I’m curious, so please, please tell me – where do YOUR ideas come from?


Monday, April 11, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays - The Journey

Each writer has their own way of approaching writing. Some write the entire manuscript before returning to the beginning just to start  it all over again. Some edit as they go. I tend to be in the second group of writers.
Every day, as I sit down to add to whichever project I am working on, I start by rereading what is already there to put myself back in the moment I left off in. This is where I tend to find things that require changing. All of the extra commas come out, the tense changes, odd phrasing or head hopping. This isn’t to say I am able to catch all of the strange little foibles that fill my writing. That is where a great writing buddy comes in.
My fellow Wenches keep my writing in line and push me to finish when I falter. My husband (who is not a reader at all) gets treated to excerpts which require a male point of view and as an added bonus, reading these bits out loud usually helps me to find the places that stumble in my writing. I highly recommend reading your work aloud, even if it is only to the family pet or an empty room. You’ll find and rectify the things your mind autocorrects as you read in your head.
 I guess what I’m trying to tell you in my roundabout way is that the writing may be a solitary journey, but the rewrites do not have to be and should not be done alone. When you are the only one reading and reviewing your work, the view can tend to become myopic. So, whether you are part of the first group, who creates the full manuscript before doing any rereading, or the second group, find yourself some people you can trust to tell you the truth. As nice as it is to hear that each word from your pen is solid gold, it is far more helpful to have someone point out where the work stumbles.
If there is no one in your life to tell you when you are abusing your right to use commas, you can do as I did and join a writers group. For myself, there was nothing available to me locally so I turned to the internet. A group called FanStory.com became my home away from home. It is also the place I met my fellow Wenches. The feedback and the lessons I learned there are what brought my writing to the level where it could become published. This doesn’t mean I write flawlessly the first time, every time, far from it. But a writers group is a wonderful place to test your wings and explore new writing genres.
Try to toughen your skin and be open to helpful advice. It’s easy to become offended by someone who is telling you that your perfect brain child suffers from some bad habits. Take a deep breath and don’t respond right away. Give the advice a chance to settle and see if it is something that really will improve your work. You may not always agree, but more often than not, the new set of eyes see a lot more clearly than your love blinded ones.
Just remember, you may take the first steps alone in the caverns of your imagination, but you will find tremendous joy when you retrace those step and shine light on them with someone you trust. Someone who will lovingly help you polish the images you have created to perfection.
Rain :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Memoir is Published

I'd like to share a link with you, but first let me tell you why.  

Writing about the death of a loved one is a very difficult thing to do. It took me over two decades to finally sit down and pen a memoir about the loss of my mother. The process was taxing, yet surprisingly cathartic. Reliving the memories of those days brought me to tears, but also helped me revisit the warm, happy moments shared.

Now my memoir is published. The Summer of '82, is featured on the homepage of The Cuckleburr Times, An online magazine created for writers, by writers. I'd love for you to take a look. If you leave a comment on their site, I'll do a happy dance for you and send lots and lots of virtual hugs. :)

Thanks, fellow wench-ies and -os!
Wench Nic
(aka C.E. Hart)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Beach Trees--ARC Review

Blurb: From the time she was twelve, Julie Holt knew what a random tragedy can do to a family. At that tender age, her little sister disappeared-never to be found. It was a loss that slowly eroded the family bonds she once relied on. As an adult with a prestigious job in the arts, Julie meets a struggling artist who reminds her so much of her sister, she can't help feeling protective. It is a friendship that begins a long and painful process of healing for Julie, leading her to a house on the Gulf Coast, ravaged by hurricane Katrina, and to stories of family that take her deep into the past.
The Beach Trees, by Karen White
The Beach Trees is written with emotion, polished with amazing descriptive scenes, and takes the reader into a world of survival. Julie struggles with her guilt over her sister's disappearance, but continues her search while starting a new life as guardian of, Beau, a child belonging to her dead best friend, Monica. Julie packs up her life, straps little Beau into his car seat and moves to Monica's hometown of New Orleans.  The descriptive landscape of life after hurricane Katrina is so vivid, I could nearly smell the earthy smell of the town. The characters throughout the story are well developed. I love the way this story carries the reader onward, always rooting for Julie to discover her inner demons, and finally settle down.
The way the author delves into two different people's past-- Beau's newly discovered great-grandmother, Aimee Guidry and the main character Julie--the transitions are seamless.  Though the story goes from present day to the past several times, I was able to travel with the characters. This talented author tied all the lives together in imaginative ways. Secrets unfold throughout the story, but only enough to peak my interest and pull me deeper into the plot.  I was a bit sad at the last page. I found myself missing the characters when I closed the book.  I highly recommend The Beach Trees. If I could rate it with ten stars, I would.  
~*~Summer Wench

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wednesday Wonderings: What Makes A Leading Man

As a writer of romance, there are a few must-have factors: a girl, a boy and falling in love. For my books at least. It can be a mix of any two people that the writer feels inclined to have do the dance of love.

I love to read romance novels, to experience over and over again the first blossom of love with characters I have grown to care about. (Actually, I am in the middle of one such blossom and eager to devour more *cough* Rain, write more *cough*). 

In my movie choices I’m not such a softie. I prefer explosions and gore and chainsaw-wielding maniacs. There is something that I can’t connect with in romance movies they way I can with books. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer first and everything else second. To be a good writer, we have to be a great readers. And so if books were food, I’d be clinically obese.

To get to my point, what is the one thing that holds any romance novel together? The deciding factor that will make or break your opinion of the book? To me (and probably a lot of other women) it’s the leading man.

So What Makes A Leading Man?

When it comes to men, everyone is different. But let’s not get confused between love and lust. For lust, the tastes aren’t so different. Give a girl something pretty to look at and we’re happy. But to make us fall in love...that takes some work, and some serious writing skill. Because at the end of the day, that is what we are asking our readers to do – fall in love. There aren’t many romance picture books, to give you a glossy image of the hunk gracing the pages. There aren’t movie clips to see how they move or sound bites to hear them whisper sweet nothings to the heroine.

For me simple things can make the romance turn sour. Saying the leading man has a hairy chest, or too in touch with his feminine side, or seriously arrogant, can be a turn off. So how can writers keep everyone happy?

In short...they can’t. Because we don’t come from a cookie cutter mould with pre-fixed settings on who pushes the right buttons. What we can do is try our best to make the romance as real as possible and our hunks as dreamy as dreamy can be.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays - Beware the Repeat

When writing your story, take careful note of how often you start sentences with the same word. If your main character’s name is Simon, it is not necessary to start each sentence about him with his name. At the same time, you don’t want to start each sentence with ‘he’ or ‘his’ either. It is possible to convey to the reader who the paragraph is about without starting with these words - although you do want to have the characters name towards the beginning of the paragraph.
Simon turned and rose from his crouched position. His lips formed the word danger to his companions, but no sound passed them. He motion for them to follow through the rising mist. His senses opened. He strained to hear or see any sign of the beast they tracked. He had glimpsed its form through the trees earlier and now feared it was heading for the nearby village. Simon’s heart ached as he thought of his beloved sister Emily. He thought of the terrible damage done to her, body and soul, by the foul animal she mistakenly called husband. Simon’s need for vengeance raged through him. He would put an end to its mockery of life. It would be dead before it could continue its blood-fuelled rampage.

Simon turned and rose from his crouched position. The word danger formed on his lips, but no sound reached his companions. He motion for them to follow through the rising mist. Senses open and straining to hear or see any sign of the beast they tracked. Earlier, he glimpsed its form through the trees and now feared it was heading for the nearby village. His heart ached as he thought of his beloved sister Emily. Thoughts of the terrible damage done to her, body and soul, by the foul animal she mistakenly called husband. Need for vengeance raged through him. There would be an end to its mockery of life. It would be dead before it could continue its blood-fuelled rampage.

Okay, the first paragraph has 126 words, the second 121. So it doesn’t take much in the way of extra or fewer words to eliminate all of the he, he, he, his, his, Simon, Simon’s. For me, the flow of this paragraph is much easier to follow with the varying sentence starters.
You should also be aware of this with paragraph starts. Look through your story or novel. See if there are paragraphs within close proximity to each other that start with the same word. Especially if it is an unusual word like ‘incidental’, sometimes, it can leave the reader feeling as though they have lost their place and returned to the previous paragraph. It’s important to keep the flow of reading going, and having a reader stop to check their place interrupts this.
One more thing about repeats, when describing something, like a storm or a race, it is easy to use the object you are describing frequently. More so if it is something unique. This makes it even more important to be aware of the words you choose. And don’t forget to make certain all of your characters don’t grin with delight or their eyes don’t all twinkle mischievously. Use your thesaurus. It will open up a whole new world of verbal delights for you.
Rain :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday PicNic ~ Unforgettable Characters

Have you ever read a book and after a week or two, found it difficult to remember much about it? Sigh…

As writers, we don’t want to pour our passion into a manuscript of forgettable pages. We want our readers to drink in our story, savor its flavor, and remember it. How do we do that? By asking questions.

Think of a favorite book you’ve read; a novel that stands out in your mind. Is it a favorite because it’s written with a unique flair? Do you cherish it for its exquisite scenery, crafty dialogue, shocking twist or ending? No—more than likely, you love the book because you love the people who dwell inside it. 

Characters make a book memorable.

As a teenager, I reluctantly began reading William Golding’s Lord of the Flies for a school assignment. Soon after being introduced to Ralph and Piggy, I unsuspectingly became invested in this symbolic classic.

The British choirboys became real to me. I became sympathetic to Ralph, the protagonist. He tried to establish order and focused on the rescue of his fellow plane crash survivors; displaying humanness while others became frenzied, animalistic jungle hunters. I was also sensitive to the welfare of Piggy, an intellectual orphan boy, teased for his pudgy frame and thick glasses. He was an outsider to the others, yet became a confidant and sidekick to Ralph’s leadership role. They both shared their inner selves with each other, and developed a true friendship. They developed a relationship with me too. I shook in fear and cried with them; and now, decades later, I remember them.

As writers, we need to ask questions. We must explore the characters we create. What makes them different? What makes them vulnerable? What faults do they have? Are they happy, grumpy, smart, or overweight? Do they have particular goals? Do they walk with a limp? Did they have happy childhoods? Are they wealthy? These are questions, among hundreds of others, we should ask our characters. We need to learn their distinctive physical traits, establish their inward and outward personas, and share their qualities (good and bad) with our readers. The more we reveal about our characters and why they do the things they do, the easier it is for readers to connect with them, and the more memorable they will become. If we fall in love with our characters, chances are, our readers will too.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

SumShine Saturday~*~Ending an affair with a book.

Every time I finish a book, I miss writing about the people, events and feelings throughout the story. It is with a certain sadness that I must type the last two words ... The End.

With a heavy heart, I usually start writing another book to ease the empty feeling of "now what do I do?". Guess what happens every time? I discover new worlds, eras, and most of all, fresh characters to infuse with life.

I smile, knowing readers will see the world I created--through my character's eyes. Sometimes I write by the seat of my pants. (Okay,  I always do that, but it works for me.) I know the way each book begins and ends, but I leave it up to my characters to fill in the middle.

All I have to do is sit at my keyboard and allow my characters to write the story. Odd as that sounds, I have a feeling every author can relate.

Can you relate? I'd love to read your feedback.

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